Never let it be said that Kia are behind the door when it comes down to offering niche vehicles, or inventing new niches for that matter. Their model range offers everything from large SUVs to V6 GTs, with plenty in-between. This is the XCeed, and in Kia’s own words it’s a ‘Sporty Compact Crossover,’ whatever that means.
Obviously, it’s spawned from their rather good family hatchback – the Ceed. The launch of the XCeed goes someway to explaining why the Ceed lost its apostrophe, as XCee’d looks rather like a cat ran across someone in the Kia naming department’s keyboard.
The Ceed’s rather complicated range has been simplified for the XCeed, you choose between 2, 3 or First Edition which is still the top model. The engine selection has been reduced, too, with a 3-cylinder, 1.0l petrol, a 4-cylinder 1.4l petrol or two 1.6l diesels being the only choices. The smaller petrol and the diesel are manual only, the 1.4l petrol can be mated to an automatic transmission. The 1.6l diesel engine comes with 114hp in ‘2’ spec, 134hp in ‘3’ spec. As you might expect, all XCeeds are front wheel drive.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the XCeed demands around a £2K premium over its regular Ceed equivalent, so just what are you getting for your money?
On face value alone, the XCeed is a far more attractive proposition. Despite the suspension being raised slightly to fulfil its crossover claims, the XCeed has been given a more sleek, aggressive look. The headlights are narrow, almost snake-like and the whole front of the car is angled towards the tarmac – see ‘Sporty Crossover’.
The chromed window surround is nearly identical to the Ceed’s, but where the roofline strays away from the glass at the Ceed’s C-pillar, they stay nearly parallel on the XCeed – almost Alfa Brera-ish. This would normally eat into your boot-space, but at 426 litres, the XCeed actually swallows an extra 46 litres over the Ceed. All-out capacity isn’t the whole story, though – you’ll struggle getting larger items in without putting the rear seats down thanks to the boot’s aperture.
Where you do lose space is in the rear seats, where head and legroom suffer somewhat to keep the XCeed looking good. Conversely, the slightly raised ride height makes getting into and out of the XCeed a bit easier; you win some, you lose some.
A tough, grey plastic scuff guard that runs along the bottom edge of the XCeed not only confirms its crossover status, it actually makes the whole car appear wider and lower. Add to this some industry-standard roof-rails and the XCeed picture is complete.
Usual Kia Inside?
Inside the XCeed you’ll find some hardy feeling cloth on the seats – exclusive to the XCeed, but apart from that it’s standard Kia fare. Equipment is generous, LED lights all round and reversing camera come as standard and all but the lowest spec get a 10.25” infotainment system with telematics (grade 2 XCeeds get 8”). Apart from some optional splashes of garish yellow that we’d imagine would go with the exterior decals you’d also opted for, the XCeed’s interior isn’t far removed from the Ceed it’s based on. What that means in real terms is lots of black plastic that feels good enough, but lacks imagination.
Raised Ride, But At a Cost
On the road, the suspension and seating are raised just enough to add confidence, but not as much as you might be used to in traditional crossovers. Unfortunately, the price you pay for a better view over hedges is a less dynamic driving experience, especially at the rear where the suspension is all of a sudden quite unsettled.
Quiet, Refined Diesel
Our test car came with the higher powered 1.6l diesel engine, so that means 134bhp, 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds and a top speed of 122mph. Not exactly figures to set the world alight, but it will return a healthy 53.3mpg and emit 138g/km CO2. You couldn’t ever say the XCeed is a spirited drive, but it’s quite good fun and the diesel engine is quieter and smoother than many at this price point.
Even the quickest XCeed – the 138bhp petrol with a manual gearbox is only going to get to 62mph in 9.1 seconds which is a barely noticeable improvement in real terms. What’s probably going to be more vivid is the 280Nm torque this diesel engine provides. It’s nearly 40Nm more than the most powerful petrol and will be welcome with a heavy load, hills etc.
Should I Buy A Kia XCeed?
Kia have been making really decent cars for a while now, and they’re not afraid to push the boundaries. The question is; who really needs an XCeed? It falls between two well established stools and might just be a niche too far.
By Ben Harrington